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November 2019

‘999 Academy Lite’ Launched in Cornwall

A new version of an emergency services’ youth initiative has been launched for young people in the South West to develop lifesaving skills.

Ambulance, police and fire have teamed-up with Cornwall Council to deliver ‘999 Academy Lite’ which aims to inspire young people to create safer communities.

Established in 2011, the 999 Academy youth development programme normally runs for 18-months during term time outside of education hours.

Now a seven-day version of the course is being run to give young people aged 16-19 the opportunity to learn new skills during school holidays.

The Cornish partnership is formed of Devon and Cornwall Police, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, and Cornwall Council Youth Offending Service and Community Safety Team.

Chief Superintendent Jim Pearce, Devon and Cornwall Police’s commander for Cornwall, said:

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“I have been very impressed with this new version of the 999 academy and can see the benefits. Those involved have learnt about how to protect and help the public in a very engaging way. Whether or not this becomes a full time career in the future for them is by the by, as this experience will help them impress any future employer. Well done to all involved.”

Rob Horton, Responder Manager for South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We wanted to create a balance between education and practical experiences with the students leaving the 999 Academy with some certificated skills but also with the ability to share their experiences with other young people and with potential employers, to blow them away with tales of learning to surf, triaging major medical emergencies, rescuing people from a smoke-filled room or being a team player learning bush craft skills.

“Previous courses have seen young people progress to train as full time paramedics, police officers, nurses and defence medics and this is wonderful to see the future heroes coming through into the emergency services.

“This joint emergency services’ 999 Academy programme is set up to inspire young people to become valued and respected members of our community whilst developing the transferrable skills which employers and education providers are looking for on a CV.”

Cornwall Council’s Youth Offending Service, Service Manager, Christine Walker-Booth said:

“The 999 Academy is a marvellous example of partnership working with services coming together to provide exciting new experiences for young people. The programme has offered the students chances they would never have otherwise been able to access. They were offered opportunities to become involved in completely new situations that both challenged them and taught them new skills. These new found skills will enable them to face their future challenges with more resilience and confidence. Congratulations to all involved.”

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer (interim), Mark Hewitt said:

“It was a pleasure to see the 999 Academy students celebrate their end of course with a presentation at Tolvaddon Community Fire Station. This is another example of a multi-agency led course delivering outcomes that develop and improve the lives of young people through a structured and disciplined program. The course leaders are community role models and provide the best learning experience to the students based on years of emergency service experience.”

The 999 Academy remains at the forefront in delivering practical skills to young people, having branched out from Barnstaple, North Devon to Bridgwater and Taunton College in 2017. Other locations for further courses are being developed across the South West.

The mission statement of the 999 Academy is:

To provide knowledge and skills for individuals by raising aspirations and promoting a positive image and using the following core values:

  • Respect, Inclusion, Education, Safety, Community

Ronnie ‘Thankful’ For Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest is probably the most serious type of medical emergency. It is literally a heart-stopping event, and the chance of survival is slim.

But since he came through a triple cardiac arrest earlier this year, Ronnie Lee says his life has been transformed for the better. 

“If I could turn-back time and stop it happening, I wouldn’t,” says the 40-year-old from Gloucester.  

“My life was in a downward spiral. I wasn’t looking after myself, and I was praying to God for help.

“This is the biggest second chance I could have asked for.

“My life has changed for the better. I have stopped smoking, and I’m trying to lose weight. I feel like a totally different person now. It’s been the blessing of my life.

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“I know I wasn’t supposed to die that day,” he added. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone. I’m alive.”

Ronnie experienced pain experienced pain in the centre of his chest when he was at home in March. He called South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) for help. Click here to listen to his 999 call. 

He spoke with 999 call handler Steph Ruby, but the pain worsened and he had difficulty breathing. Ronnie was having a heart attack.

Neighbour Andy Evans came to his aid, and continued the emergency call until crews arrived.

Paramedic Aimee Scott and ambulance crew Lauren Gardner and Rebecca Crabb treated Ronnie at his flat and conveyed him to hospital. They were supported by a volunteer community first responder.

But when Ronnie’s heart stopped in the ambulance, the situation became even more critical.

Thankfully the paramedics managed to restart his heart by giving him immediate CPR and shocks with a defibrillator.

His heart stopped twice more in the ambulance, but on each occasion the paramedics managed to resuscitate him.

After being stabilised in Gloucester Royal Hospital, he was transferred to Bristol for surgery to unblock two of his arteries.

Despite being briefly re-admitted to hospital in August, Ronnie has been able to do much of his recovery at home.

He visited Staverton Ambulance Station on Wednesday 23 October to thank the ambulance team in person. 

Paramedic Aimee Scott said: “Ronnie recognised something was wrong and dialled 999. He was supported by his caring neighbour who stayed on the line with the Control Hub until assistance arrived.

“Ronnie was experiencing a Myocardial Infarction (heart attack). He was extremely unstable, resulting in him going into cardiac arrest multiple times in the ambulance. This required us to complete immediate CPR and defibrillation. Thankfully we were able to achieve ROSC, which is a spontaneous return of circulation.

“As he remained unstable, we had to divert to the nearest hospital for staff to stabilise him and continue with his care prior to a secondary ambulance transfer to the heart specialists.

“Ronnie proves that starting the chain of survival with early CPR and defibrillation improves patient outcome. It is an honour to be part of such a fantastic team where we have achieved such an amazing outcome. I am grateful that I have been able to meet Ronnie and see how well he is doing!”


1. The group photo shows Ronnie Lee at Staverton Ambulance Station with (left to right) South Western Ambulance Service Paramedic Aimee Scott, Paramedic Rebecca Crabb, and Emergency Care Assistant Lauren Gardner. The other image is of a letter written by Ronnie to the ambulance team.

2. Community First Responders are trained volunteers who attend emergency incidents on behalf of SWASFT within their local communities. They respond to particular types of 999 calls where it is essential for the patient to receive immediate lifesaving care. These include conditions such as cardiac arrest, chest pain, breathing difficulties, unconscious patients, fitting and stroke.

3. A heart attack is a serious medical emergency when in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.

4. A sudden cardiac arrest is an urgent medical emergency when the heart stops beating, abruptly and without warning. When this happens blood stops pumping round the body and the brain is starved of oxygen. That causes the person to fall unconscious and stop breathing. A heart attack may cause a cardiac arrest.

5. There are approximately 59,000 cardiac arrests in England each year. There are approximately 28,000 attempts to resuscitate people having out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year. Fewer than one in 10 people survive an out-of hospital cardiac arrest in the UK. But the sooner effective cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is started, the better the chance of survival for the patient. For every minute delay, the patient’s chances of survival fall by 10%. If a defibrillator is readily available, patients are six times more likely to survive.

6. If someone stops breathing call 999 immediately, begin CPR, and use a public-access defibrillator if one is available.

Brave Crash Victim Raises £6k For Ambulance Charity

A courageous mum whose husband died in a motorway crash has presented a cheque to the South Western Ambulance Charity after raising thousands of pounds in his memory.

Ceri and Rod Walsh, from Cheddar in Somerset, were involved in a multi-vehicle collision on the M5 near Taunton in September 2018.

Ceri sustained serious injuries in the crash, and doctors feared she would not be able to walk again.

But a year later Ceri defied expectations to complete a 10km run with their children Thomas, 14, and Carys, 11, and many other family members and friends.


Ceri handed-over the cheque for £6,387.75 to South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) staff on behalf of the charity at Taunton Ambulance Station on Tuesday 5 November.

She said she was “blown away” by the amount raised.

Ceri said: “I’ve been through a rollercoaster of emotions during the past year. But once I realised I was going to survive, I wanted to do something for the people who responded to the incident.

“The ambulance service deals with incidents that no human being would want to witness. They work professionally to maintain life at the worst possible time. Without the ambulance service my two wonderful children would be living without their mum.”

Two of Ceri’s colleagues also raised more than £2,500 from a skydive in March.

Zoe Larter, head of South Western Ambulance Charity, said: “We are so grateful to Ceri, her family, friends and colleagues for their incredible fundraising for the South Western Ambulance Charity.

“Alongside the generous donations, I’ve been honoured to read some of the heart-warming messages from Ceri’s supporters on her fundraising page.

“To raise a total of almost £9,000 for the charity is a fantastic legacy to her husband, Rod, and a real testament to how loved Ceri and her family are. They are such an inspiration to us all.”

The family described Rod as a "gentle fun-loving family man" who was "loved dearly". They praised his "laughter, love of life, kindness and loyalty".

Rod was a committed member of the parish church in Cheddar, and had been an NHS worker for almost 40 years.

Ceri has worked as a NHS nurse for more than 30 years.

South Western Ambulance Charity uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service, and to improve the welfare of SWASFT staff and volunteers.

At Ceri’s request, the funds she raised will be used specifically to support the staff of ambulance stations in Somerset.

Zoe added: “Every donation to the South Western Ambulance Service Charity makes such a difference, and stories like this one show the impact that SWASFT and the NHS has on our communities.”

If you would like to raise money for South Western Ambulance Charity, please email or call 0300 369 0108.

To donate to the charity, please click on this link:

Paramedic Paul Runs UK Best At 24-Hour World Championship

A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) senior paramedic has become one of the top ultra-runners in the world.

Paul Maskell, 41, competed at the 24 Hour World Championships in France, and managed to run an incredible 156 miles (251km).

He was the first British man in 15th place, after running as far as he could against hundreds of other athletes.

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The SWASFT Operations Officer regularly runs 11 miles between home in St Austell and work in Bodmin in between 12-hour shifts.

He was selected in a team of six UK men for the race on October 26-27 after running 154 miles (248km) at another 24-hour event in London.

Paul said: “I loved doing the race. To be able to compete in a world championship was such an amazing experience, and it was a real honour to represent Great Britain. Putting on the vest was such a proud moment.

“There were highs and lows during the 24 hours. It’s a case of enjoying the highs, and battling through the lows by remembering family and friends and having the willpower to keep going. We were running in 27 degree heat during the daytime. I was also encouraged by the team atmosphere in what is usually an individual event.”

He was cheered-on by a group of 10 school friends who travelled to France for the event. 

Paul said: “They flew out and surprised me. I saw them all standing beside the track wearing specially-made t-shifts. They stayed for the whole 24 hours which was a huge boost to me and the other athletes. It was quite emotional at the finish line.

“I lost a toe nail during the race and had sore feet afterwards. Apart from that I felt great!”

Paul, who has worked for the ambulance service for almost 20 years, said: “I’ve never had any serious injuries, and have never had to take a sick day off work.

“Although I love my job, when I returned to work for a night shift there was definitely a feeling of ‘back to reality’.

“Since the race I’ve already done a 10km event in Newquay raising money for Cornwall Air Ambulance.”

“I’m going to keep on running and hope to get re-selected next year.”

The Great British team finished 4th overall and narrowly missed out on a bronze medal.

Since 2012 Paul has competed in multiple long distance and ultra-distance runs, including the London Marathon and 100-mile events.

He has won several ultra-runs in recent years, including the Arc of Attrition along the coast path from Coverack in South East Cornwall.

Jo James, who works with Paul, said: “The race was an extraordinary physical and mental challenge.

“We’ve been so excited by Paul’s journey and have been supporting him all the way. His selection was an achievement in itself. But for him to finish among the top endurance athletes in the world was phenomenal.”

Ambulance teams celebrate heroic staff awards

The heroic and tireless efforts of staff and volunteers to deliver outstanding patient care have been recognised at a South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust’s (SWASFT) awards ceremony.

The annual staff awards acknowledge those who have gone above and beyond expectations and the dedicated service of long-standing members of staff.

The guest speaker at the awards was Karen with her husband Trevor Filer who told their moving story of when he suffered a cardiac arrest and was saved by the quick actions of the emergency teams.

Around 115 SWASFT staff and volunteers, and members of the public, who played vital roles in responding to emergency situations came together for the event at Swindon Village on Friday 8 November.

SWASFT Chief Executive, Ken Wenman, said: “3,000 times a day, within the largest ambulance service in England, our people are saving lives, reducing peoples’ suffering and pain, and dealing with the social and mental health needs of our communities. I am personally thankful to them all.”

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Sarah Troughton, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire was one of the guests at the event giving out the awards; “I was honoured to give out some of the Long Service medals to your wonderful workforce. I would also like to say that there was a lovely atmosphere in the room and you all evidently enjoy working with each other, secure in the knowledge that you do incredibly important work  looking after us all in the South West.”  

Among those many staff who were recognised for being exceptional were:

  • Leadership Award – Jane Whichello, Wiltshire Deputy County Commander (image available)
  • Celebrating Diversity Award – Sharifa Hashem, Patient Engagement Manager (image available)
  • Long Service Award – for 40 years’ dedicated service to his community – Philip Green Paramedic, Wiltshire (image available

  • Jane Whichello, Wiltshire Deputy County Commander, was given the Leadership Award and joined the ambulance service in 2008 after spending many years in Corporate business (roles in British Gas). Jane said she was wanting to change her career and find something more worthwhile; “Working for the ambulance service is a privilege – no two days are ever the same, we get to see a window on peoples’ lives often at their most vulnerable time and try to make it a little easier, and I get to work with a fantastic and talented group of people who really do go above and beyond every day.”

jane and ken

  • Sharifa Hashem, Patient Engagement Manager, won the Celebrating Diversity Award – Sharifa said; “I am humbled and pleased to have won the Trust’s Celebrating Diversity award in recognition of my work on improving diversity and inclusion with South Western Ambulance Service. The Trust recognised the need for a comprehensive work plan to ensure a more inclusive culture and better representation at all levels. It truly takes a village for a culture change to take place so thank you to everyone who has actively supported diversity and inclusion. This is a marathon and not a sprint and I’m looking forward to seeing further results from this work stream.”


Sharifa and Ken

  • Wiltshire Paramedic Philip Green was awarded the 40 year long service award. Philip said : “I love my job, no two days are the same, every day is different and the variety and challenges we face make this role unique. The people I work with help to make the role so special and it’s great to work with such amazing people.”

Philip Green started with the Trust in 1979, what was then known as the Wiltshire Ambulance Service as a Community Care Assistant and driver. He wasn’t in that role more than three months before he was asked to work on the frontline and became an ambulance technician. By 1983 Philip had worked his way up to being a clinically trained paramedic. Throughout his 40 years of service he has seen many changes, the biggest of which is the improved care and treatment patients receive, including the number of drugs patients can be given before arriving at hospital as well as the ability to pre-alert a hospital so they are ready to treat patients quickly and efficiently on arrival. In 1991 he was selected to be part of the first Wiltshire Air Ambulance team and now works as a Paramedic at Malmesbury station.

Volunteer Lifting Service To Help More Patients

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) has been given significant funding to extend a pioneering volunteer-led project in local communities.

Gloucestershire Strategic Housing Partnership has provided £50,000 to support patients in six communities across the county have non-injury falls, are unable to get up, and call 999.

The scheme involves trained volunteers, called Community First Responders (CFRs), attending these incidents and assessing patients with support from clinicians in the Control Hub.

In each incident, the volunteer uses an emergency lifting chair to move patients from the floor to a sitting or standing position, and the clinician decides if an ambulance is required.

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The initiative reduces patient wait times and enables frontline crews to be available for life-threatening incidents.

Kevin Dickens, SWASFT County Responder Officer for Gloucestershire, said: “We are delighted to have received this funding from the Strategic Housing Partnership.

“The lifting scheme enables our trained volunteers to further support patients at home in their local community in a robust and safe way. It means our patients can be helped back onto their feet in a safe and more-timely manner.

“Our volunteers give their time freely to help support SWASFT and our patients. This funding helps them to provide more enhanced care for those in need.”

Dr Hein Le Roux, Deputy Clinical Chair at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Falls are common and can lead to serious health issues, particularly for older people. They can cause distress and pain, and often result in people losing their confidence and independence.

“We are delighted to be working with our colleagues in South Western Ambulance Service to help people who have fallen at home.

“Responding promptly to help the person get up from the floor and ensuring they are assessed quickly is really important as it can often avoid them having to go to hospital.”

Around a third of people aged 65+ and about half of people aged 80+ fall at least once a year. 

The lifting concept was developed in 2017 as a way to attend and assess non-injury falls patients more quickly, developing the skills and experience of CFRs with help from clinicians.

The new funding has provided eight lifting devices, and covered training and associating hub staffing costs.

It has enabled the service to be launched in the following new areas: Bishops Cleeve, Cheltenham, Quedgeley/ Tuffley, Tidenham and Cirencester. A second scheme has also been rolled-out in Stroud.

It brings the total number of lifting schemes in Gloucestershire to 13.

During an eight-week trial involving 17 groups across the South West waiting times for non-injury falls patients were cut by 12.5%.

Of the incidents attended by a CFR 77% did not need support from a paramedic, saving 148 hours of frontline resource time.

SWASFT was given the Best Care of Older People accolade at the Health Service Journal’s 2018 Patient Safety Awards for the initiative.

CFRs are trained volunteers who attend emergency incidents and deliver care in their local communities, on behalf of SWASFT, while an ambulance is on its way.

As well as non-injury falls incidents, they respond to 999 calls where it is essential for the patient to receive immediate lifesaving care. These include conditions such as cardiac arrest, chest pain, breathing difficulties, unconscious patients, fitting and stroke.

There are around 800 CFRs providing lifesaving support to patients across the region.

Congratulations to Doctor and Paramedic of the year, Air Ambulance Awards

vicki brown - paramedic winner AAA

We are excited to announce two of our medical emergency responders have been awarded Doctor and Paramedic of the year at the Air Ambulance Awards of Excellence this week for their work with Great Western Air Ambulance Charity.

Exceptional staff from the UK were recognised for the fantastic work they do for our communities, including our South West winners Dr Scott Grier and Paramedic Vicki Brown who won in their categories.

  • Winner - Air Ambulance Doctor of the Year was Dr Scott Grier, Great Western Air Ambulance Charity. (pictured)
  • Winner - Air Ambulance Paramedic of the Year was Vicki Brown, Great Western Air Ambulance Charity. (pictured)

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Almost 300 guests celebrated the best and brightest from the air ambulance community on Monday night at the national Air Ambulance Awards of Excellence 2019.

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Chief Executive Anna Perry said: “The whole GWAAC team are incredibly proud to work alongside colleagues such as Scott and Vicki, and I am so pleased that their incredible commitment and dedication to the cause has been recognized – it’s thoroughly deserved”

Christian Wiggin, Specialist Lead Critical Care for South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said; “Congratulations to our winners – Dr Scott Grier and Specialist Paramedic - Critical Care, Vicki Brown for winning at the Air Ambulance Awards ceremony. We are truly proud of the fantastic work they do with their teams in keeping our communities safe.”

dr scott grier - winner doctor AAA

Awards host Charlotte Hawkins, star of Good Morning Britain on ITV, handed out 12 Awards to outstanding individuals and teams, whose stories were inspirational, astounding and humbling. The awards, which are independently judged, went to pilots, paramedics, doctors, fundraisers and volunteers who collected their trophies at a ceremony held at The Chelsea Harbour Hotel.

An enthusiastic audience listened to the remarkable stories of each shortlisted nominee, all of whom demonstrated excellence and commitment well above and beyond the call of duty.

This year’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award went to David Lockey, one of the leading air ambulance doctors in the UK and the first Professor of Pre-hospital Emergency Medicine. Young Person of the Year went to Maisie Sheridan, who has overcome life-threatening injuries to not only become a volunteer fundraiser for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance but also its youngest ever peer supporter.

Chair of the Judging Panel, Robert Courts, former MP and current candidate for Witney and West Oxfordshire, said:

"I am delighted to have chaired the Air Ambulance Awards of Excellence this year. I have volunteered with my local charity - Thames Valley Air Ambulance - for a number of years so have had some insight into the extraordinary level of expertise and dedication of the people working in this sector. The Awards are a wonderful way of showcasing the work of these exceptional people and organisations.”

John Thanks Lifesavers After Heart Stops Beating

A father-of-two has been reunited with the off-duty doctors who saved his life when his heart stopped beating at his local squash club.

John Savage, 56, from Bath, went into cardiac arrest during fitness training at Lansdown Tennis Squash & Croquet Club in the Northfields area of the city on 13 October.

Bristol GP, Mark Byron, realised John had stopped breathing and called for help.

He carried-out CPR with Dr Richard Dixon, and they gave John three shocks with a defibrillator.   

Local businessman, Andy Ewings, called 999 to alert South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) who arrived within four minutes. To listen to the 999 call, click here

John soon regained consciousness, and has gone on to make a fantastic recovery.

John made a special visit to Bath Ambulance Station on Tuesday 26 November to thank his lifesavers in person. 

He said: “I felt my heart flutter and thought it was going to pass out. The next thing I remember is Paramedic Ed leaning over me. I felt like I was in the eye of my own storm.

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“There was a lot of concern for me, but I’m practically back to normal now.

“I survived because of the great response and treatment I received. I’m incredibly lucky to be alive.

“I’m not religious, but it’s miraculous.”

Dr Byron said: “It was an upsetting event. But I went into autopilot, and thankfully the ambulance crew arrived quickly.”

999 Call Handler Vicki Hodgon and other staff in the Control Room organised for crews to respond to the emergency.

Paramedics Ed Hill and Rosemary Cherry treated John at the scene, and conveyed him to the Royal United Hospital in Bath. They were supported by Paramedic Matthew Jenkins and Operations Officer Michael Anning.

John was transferred to the Bristol Heart Institute for surgery.

Ed said: “As we arrived John had just received his third shock and had begun making a recovery, resulting in him talking to us.

“This was such a fantastic example of early CPR and defibrillation which deserves recognition.

“I can’t describe the emotion of reuniting the patient with his two young daughters after his dad had been clinically dead for five minutes.”

SWASFT Operations Officer, Michael Anning added: “This incident demonstrates the real worth of publicly accessible defibrillators. The quick action of bystanders and the prompt transfer to hospital have ensured the best possible outcome.”

About heart attacks and cardiac arrests:

  1. A heart attack is a serious medical emergency when in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.
  2. A sudden cardiac arrest is an urgent medical emergency when the heart stops beating, abruptly and without warning. When this happens blood stops pumping round the body and the brain is starved of oxygen. That causes the person to fall unconscious and stop breathing. A heart attack may cause a cardiac arrest.
  3. There are approximately 59,000 cardiac arrests in England each year. There are approximately 28,000 attempts to resuscitate people having out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year. Fewer than one in 10 people survive an out-of hospital cardiac arrest in the UK.
  4. But the sooner effective cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is started, the better the chance of survival for the patient. For every minute delay, the patient’s chances of survival fall by 10%. If a defibrillator is readily available, patients are six times more likely to survive.
  5. If someone stops breathing call 999 immediately, begin CPR, and use a public-access defibrillator if one is available.

Mick's Lifesaving Air Ambulance Legacy

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is supporting a terminally ill colleague’s wish to leave a lifesaving legacy for Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

Mick Saye has worked as an Emergency Care Assistant at Warminster Ambulance Station since 2016 having previously volunteered as a Community First Responder.

Mick has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He is currently receiving treatment which, although will not heal the cancer, will hopefully slow down his deterioration.

Mick has written a series of children’s short stories which he would like to leave, as part of his legacy, to Wiltshire Air Ambulance as a fundraising opportunity.

Behind the scenes, and without Mick knowing, colleagues at South Western Ambulance Service worked with the team at Wiltshire Air Ambulance to create a surprise for Mick. 

Helen Essery, one of Mick’s former colleagues at Warminster Ambulance Station, has now retired and kindly agreed to illustrate Mick’s stories. Mick’s book is now back from the printers with some fantastic illustrations to accompany the eight short stories of ‘Toby, a five and a half year old boy.’

The book, along with some framed illustrations, was presented to Mick at a celebratory event held at Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s airbase.

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When asked about his support for Wiltshire Air Ambulance, Mick said: “Wiltshire Air Ambulance does a fantastic job. Working as a Community First Responder and latterly as an Emergency Care Assistant, I worked alongside as the crew saved lives.

“When I attended emergency incidents and Wiltshire Air Ambulance were called in to provide their expertise it reassured me. The HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) team are specialists and it was nice to call on that expertise to give the best possible care to patients.

“It’s an excellent service - funded by donations - for the people of Wiltshire and surrounding counties and to lose that resource would be a disaster.

“Anything that I can do to help maintain the aircraft with monies raised from my book will be worthwhile. Hopefully the book will generate something to keep Wiltshire Air Ambulance going for it to continue saving lives for years to come.

“At my funeral service donations will be for Wiltshire Air Ambulance.”

Helen Essery, who is now retired, was a specialist paramedic in urgent and emergency care and after retiring from that role returned as an emergency care assistant. She also worked on Wiltshire Air Ambulance in the early 1990s.

Helen said: “Mick’s a great colleague. I got to know him when he was volunteering as a Community First Responder and he attended incidents that I was called to. He was very competent, reliable and always knew what he had to do. 

“Mick is very caring and when I heard about his book and that he was looking for an illustrator I said I would love to do it.

“The stories are lovely and are just the right language for children. By raising funds for Wiltshire Air Ambulance Mick is leaving a lovely legacy for the charity.”

Jane Whichello is South Western Ambulance Service’s Deputy County Commander for Wiltshire. Jane has been supporting Mick and has been in charge of coordinating the surprise book for him.

Jane said: “This has been a positive and heart-warming project that has sprung from such a sad situation following Mick’s sudden diagnosis. It demonstrates some huge hidden talents behind those green ambulance uniforms and it has been a privilege to bring those skills together for the benefit of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, who do such valuable work every day. 

“Mick’s stories and Helen’s pictures will bring lots of joy to young children and with a suggested donation of £5 per copy, the Toby stories will contribute to our county’s air ambulance.”

Barbara Gray, Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s Director of Income Generation & Communications, said: “When we heard about Mick’s story, we were only too happy to help put the book into production. It’s a beautiful legacy for Mick to leave and we can’t thank him enough for choosing to help fundraise for the charity through sales of the book.”

The book, printed by Kennet Print in Devizes, can be purchased at the charity’s airbase in Semington during normal office hours.


Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a charity which needs to raise £3.75 million each year to carry out its lifesaving work. It receives no direct Government funding or National Lottery grants.

South Western Ambulance Charity logo

South Western Ambulance Charity

The South Western Ambulance Charity, founded in 1995, uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service and to improve the welfare of the staff and volunteers of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

Our charitable support covers Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire including Bristol and Swindon.

If you would like to show your appreciation for the care that you or your loved one has received from us in the form of a charitable donation please visit our online giving website: Donate to South Western Ambulance Charity | Give as you Live Donate